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Does your culture support or hinder execution of your strategy?

We’ve written many articles about the benefits of deliberately defining the culture you desire for your organisation and then deliberately bringing about change to move you towards that desired state. Whether we realise it or not every organisation, from multinational corporates to small local businesses, have a distinctive culture that has been formed and shaped over time until that culture begins to shape and guide all that we do. Culture is often defined as “the way things are done around here”.

Culture has a huge impact on every facet of a business – from recruiting the right people, to the way you answer the phone to how the CEO inspires employees. Culture sets your organisation apart from competitors, influences how employees interact and filters through to how outsiders see your organisation.

So it’s incredibly important to get your culture right – just as important as getting your strategy right. Be deliberate about what type of culture you want and need in order to achieve your strategic plan.

Current culture vs. preferred culture

To get to where you want to go, it’s vital you understand where you are now. Insync’s culture assessment and development tool (based on the Organisation Culture Assessment Instrument developed by Cameron and Quinn) is an extensively researched framework that measures cultural indicators and how well they are aligned with an organisation’s direction and values. The tool measures four predominant culture types on opposite ends of a flexible vs. controlled, internal vs. external scale:

  • People centric – teamwork, participation, consensus
  • Market driven – market share, market leader, competitive pricing
  • Bureaucratic – dependable delivery, predictability, secure employment
  • Innovative – product/service leader, initiative, freedom

The culture assessment and development tool provides a complete view of how employees perceive the organisation’s current culture and what kind of culture they believe is essential for achieving success.

How to close the gap

A clear picture of your current culture and your preferred culture will help you identify the gaps and work to bridge those gaps with a considered action plan. A leadership team workshop is a productive way to analyse the results of the initial culture assessment and set some action priorities to start building your preferred culture. Consider other elements of your organisation, such as your vision, purpose and values and determine if these also fit well with the desired culture. The final action plan should include:

  • What are the priority improvement areas?
  • Do your vision, purpose and values support our chosen culture?
  • How should you roll out your newly defined culture?
  • How do you ensure your desired culture is articulated well and then embedded into everyday practice?

The way things are done around here

Perhaps the most important step in your whole culture change journey is to ensure the new culture is well articulated so all employees understand what the preferred culture is, understand why it is important for the organisation’s success, think through the relevance and implications for themselves and commit to demonstrating the required values and behaviours in their day to day work activities.

We believe there are four steps to successfully articulating and embedding your new culture:

  1. Engage your employees in helping you describe your desired culture in words that are meaningful and relevant to them
  2. Align the leadership team around the preferred culture so they’re well equipped to lead conversations with employees
  3. Train leaders to anchor conversations with individuals and groups around your desired culture, vision, purpose and values
  4. Develop and implement a plan, including a communication strategy to embed and reinforce your desired culture, vision, purpose and values so that your desired culture becomes your new way of life.

Cultural change takes time and a sustained leadership commitment that must be led and modelled from the top. The CEO and board need to take full responsibility for an organisation’s culture and how it is shaped, formed and adapted or transformed.

Contact us today to learn how we can help your organisation define and embed your organisation’s culture.

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